When all milks are not equal

The Weekend Post - - Views -

I HAVE eaten deep fried grasshop­pers in Thai­land, un­spec­i­fied sphinc­ter soup in Viet­nam and a ten­derised horse steak in Italy.

At Woree Pri­mary School (awarded best state school in Queens­land this year, by the way) an old aunty once brought in a con­tainer of cubed dugong meat for us to try dur­ing NAIDOC Week.

Chicken feet, ox tongue, camel jerky, croc­o­dile burg­ers, emu snags and more wal­laby than you could poke a stick at – and apart from the float­ing sphinc­ters, they were all bloody de­li­cious.

So why have I never drunk pig’s milk?

That strange ques­tion was posed to me by an even stranger woman, and not hav­ing a de­cent an­swer has grated some­thing fierce on my nerves.

“They’re hard to catch,” I the­o­rised.

“The squeal that grop­ing a piggy teat elic­its is just too much for a milk­maid’s ears to han­dle.

“Leave me be, you’re clearly un­hinged.” Truth be told, I had no idea. As I am soon to marry the afore­men­tioned deranged woman, how­ever, it was in­cum­bent upon me to open up some lines of in­quiry. Here’s the up­side. Pig’s milk is a great source of en­ergy with a fat con­tent of about 8.5 per cent com­pared to cows’ pa­thetic 3.9 per cent of­fer­ing.

Ap­par­ently it has a very gamy taste – gamier by half than goat’s milk, which is an ac­quired flavour in it­self.

Nu­tri­ent-rich and boast­ing sim­i­lar lac­tose and wa­ter con­tent to its bovine brethren, at first blush things bode pretty dang well for swill­ing down a long glass of piggy boob juice.

Un­for­tu­nately there are some in­escapable ob­sta­cles to fill­ing a bucket with squealer se­cre­tions.

Swine only pro­duce about 5.9 litres of milk per day, com­pared to al­most 30 litres for a dairy cow.

Un­like cat­tle, pork­ers can­not be­come preg­nant while they are lac­tat­ing, so us­ing them purely for fluid pro­duc­tion is not an es­pe­cially eco­nom­i­cal prospect for farm­ers.

Their bo­soms only fire off liq­uid for about 15 sec­onds at a time, whereas But­ter­cup can keep on keep­ing on for 10 min­utes straight.

And pigs are, quite likely, none too fond of hav­ing their nip­ples yanked.

That has not stopped Dutch pig farmer Erik Ste­gink from try­ing.

His prop­erty, Piggy Palace, achieved YouTube fame after he in­stalled a slip­pery slide that he bought from an old theme park for his pork­ers.

The colour­ful char­ac­ter has also started milk­ing his pigs to cre­ate cheese.

There are also men­tions on the in­ter­net of a farmer in south­ern Tus­cany pro­duc­ing a closely guarded “por­corino” cheese, but it sounds like lit­tle more than a clever wives’ tale.

Moose cheese, on the other hand, is a gen­uine ar­ti­cle.

Swe­den’s Elk House farm is touted as the only pro­ducer of the $1400/kg del­i­cacy, knock­ing out about 300kg of cheese a year from its three milk-pro­duc­ing moose.

Don­key’s dairy is a bona fide cot­tage in­dus­try, and has been for thou­sands of years.

Cleopa­tra was said to take daily baths in don­key milk to keep her skin youth­ful and taut, and Pope Fran­cis re­vealed he reg­u­larly drank the sub­stance as a boy grow­ing up in Ar­gentina.

Mal­ady-af­flicted poet Alexan­der Pope also par­took of the elixir for health rea­sons, writ­ing in a 1717 let­ter: “I also drink asses’ milk, upon which I will make no jokes tho’ it be a fer­tile sub­ject.”

It was so pop­u­lar that ar­ti­fi­cial ver­sions were also con­cocted – a 19th cen­tury “most ex­cel­lent recipe for Mock Asses Milk” guides read­ers to com­bine bar­ley, wa­ter, hartshorn shav­ings, eringo root and snails to fash­ion an ad­e­quate sub­sti­tute when times were lean.

And yet, here we are at the sharp end of 2018 and I have never drunk pig’s milk.

Sure, they have 14 nip­ples, but in the words of Ben Stiller in the clas­sic com­edy film Meet the Fock­ers: “Oh yeah, you can milk any­thing with nip­ples.”

Even a cat.

BOT­TOMS UP: To­day’s Karl Ste­fanovic en­joys a glass of milk. Pic­ture: SAM RUT­TYN

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